Tuesday morning, a group of men lifted their coffee mugs and toasted to the reopening of facilities and lifting of all restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
They were at the Senior Center of Boulder City, where they met regularly for coffee and pastries until March 2020 when the facility closed.
Frank Pomellitto, 89, said Tuesday’s opening came just in time as they had been gathering three times a week in a local park and can appreciate the air conditioning inside the senior center.
Bob Reynolds, 81, who stopped by for the coffee klatch after some early morning fishing, said they just come to visit with each other and hang out.
“We used to have a pretty wild time,” he said with a sly smile.
For Reggie Loudermilk, Tuesday’s visit was a first for him. Recently retired after a work injury and widowed in February, Loudermilk said he was glad to be able to meet with people.
“I’m lonesome. I will like it; I know I will,” he said about the center’s coffee sessions and lunches.
In addition to opening for the morning coffee session, Victoria Mason, director of the center, said they are starting to schedule activities. They also removed the curtain that blocked access to the center’s lending library and computers.
Although the center began serving in-person lunches Oct. 1, it was limited on the number of people it could serve and required people make reservations and to wear face coverings.
As of Tuesday, only people who have been vaccinated are required to wear masks and businesses and organizations can operate at 100 percent.
This change is also helping local businesses.
“The difference that helps the most is we can do a haircut now while a color is processing,” said Sherrill Graff, owner of Creative Salon. “Our salon stations are 8-by-8 or larger, which helped us keep our clients who were not living in the same household far enough apart. Also, clients no longer have to wait in their car or wear masks if they have been vaccinated.”
Heather Marianna, owner of Beauty Kitchen Boutique, said she is excited for things to return to a sense of normalcy.
“We will still take safety precautions such as providing our guests with complimentary hand sanitizer and treating them to free product samples to compensate for the pause on store samples,” she said. “At Beauty Kitchen Boutique, we are very event-driven and look forward to hosting some fun and innovative store events that our community can be excited about now that the capacity restriction has been lifted.”
Mike Collins, owner of My 4 Sons Cards, Comics and Games, said their weekend business has been busier.
“Most people just seem to be happy to be out without wearing a mask more than anything,” he added.
The city is also allowing more access to its facilities and meetings.
Visitors to City Hall and city-operated facilities do not have to wear a mask if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Those who need to meet in person will still need to meet at an approved window or in a designated meeting room with plexiglass protection.
“Customers that are unvaccinated will be required to wear face coverings,” said Fire Chief Will Gray. “Customers will still be prohibited from employee office areas.”
Acting City Manager Michael Mays said staff will continue focusing on cleaning.
“Surfaces frequently touched by multiple people — such as doors, desks, phones, light switches and more — will continue to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected daily,” he said. “We continue to recommend if someone feels sick, stay home. I know from speaking with staff, many are glad to get back to a sense of normalcy.”
Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.